Big Interview: "If things don't work out in NUP, I might return to DP," says MP Ssewanyana

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Many politicians who quit their political parties ahead of 2021 elections, especially those from the DP bloc to join the National Unity Platform (NUP) cited internal squabbles in their previous parties as the key reason for quitting.

Some of these politicians who eventually won their seats on NUP ticket are now disappointed after they were not appointed to juicy positions in Parliament.

Among those who are not happy with the appointments is Allan Ssewanyana, the Member of Parliament for Makindye West who told The Nile Post in an interview that he believes he deserves to be treated better in NUP.  

Excerpts below:

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Recently, you criticised President Museveni for not adequately rewarding Ugandan athletes who won medals at the Tokyo Olympic Games yet they were given cars and promised houses. Why?

The rewards were given to personalities like those who won the gold, silver and bronze yet in sports we work as a team. I thought of a reward which would go to the athletics team as whole because as a team some comforted these members, some technically trained them and others gave courage and support to these people who made it .So giving out a small car and a small house to individual achievers is not reward enough to the whole Olympic team.

What do you think the government can do to uplift sports in the country?

The government should think about how to develop sports in this country by improving all sports grounds, at least each and every region should have a fully flagged stadium that can host athletics, boxing, swimming, football, basketball games just in one centre. This could help in tapping sports in those regions because we have a lot of talents in those regions.

Secondly, we as legislators through the line Minister of Sports should present a fully flagged law that can manage sports in this country. Currently we have the National Council of Sports Act but this Act was made in 1960s but so many things have changed since that time. We have the technology at play, we have the marketing and finance at play now, sports is now a business.

You have for long wanted to be the president of the Federation of Uganda Football Association (FUFA).What do you think has gone wrong in the federation?

I came up to stand against Moses Magogo because I think he has not done enough for the good of football. He is someone who can't lead our football and I think we were outdone by the government not to arrest him after all evidence had come out that he had misused his office.

He has been involved in many wrangles, economic wrangles against individuals and companies that could inject more into football, against individual personalities that do make investments in sports. Football has been split into different parts by the current administration of football which is not good. We need an administrator in football who can manage football countrywide, not managing football from Kampala and some urban areas of Uganda.

Last week the government halted the activities of 54 NGOs, a major escalation of its efforts to tighten control over civil society. What is your take about this?

We saw this coming as politicians. The president has been fighting so hard to see that these entities don’t achieve their goals thinking that they have been financing the opposition which is not right. These people have different goals and some entities have been helping in developing different communities, others have helped to improve the health of Ugandans.

I think that these NGOs should go to the courts of law and I think they can get justice they need. It is not right for the government to suspend these NGOs and as a Member of Parliament we are going to fight so hard so that the government lets these NGOs continue with their work.

There is a perception that members who leave the Democratic Party are always unstable, they keep on running from one party to another depending on the wave .What is your take?

I grew up in DP but we had wrangles all through, we had misunderstandings with the current administration of the party. For some of us like myself, I was once the sole flag bearer in Kampala and managed to go through hell by winning other parties that had stood against me like NRM and FDC but DP never appreciated this.

They came with the strategy of finishing me and fighting me by even not allowing me to go into their meetings because of their ego .Such wrangles made some of us leave the party. Parties are not religions, we can change in case you don’t get justice where you are, and we only need to support parties which can support us and our agenda and agenda of the nation.

DP should learn how to hold members together, once you get good members, who are good to the society, you should hold them. We have been respecting DP .You have never heard of me fighting the party.

Many people including Norbert Mao claimed that those who joined NUP were just interested in keeping their MPs' seats and they would go to any extent to guarantee that. Is his view valid?

Not all. People who won in Kampala are not all from NUP. We have a Lord Mayor from FDC, We have an MP in Kampala Central who is independent, and we have a mayor who is from the National Resistance Movement. It depends on what you have been doing for your people and how they see you as the representative and that is why this time round when I came and stood on NUP party ticket, I won overwhelmingly because I already built my own support as a person.

Given your love for sports, there were claims that you wanted to be given the position of shadow Minister for Sports. Were you disappointed when the post was given to someone else?

My fighting last year to get a new president in this country was that this new president would give me a very big post in the government and that would be the Ministry of Sports because that is what I have interest in. When fighting a battle you have to get your own goals clear. I am interested in developing sports in this country, so why don’t I be the next Sports Minister in this country in the next government? So that is what I am fighting for. If we achieve power, I expect any government that has come into power to give me the post of Sports minister because I have a very huge vision for sports in this country.

Of course, I was disappointed to see that even when we didn’t win the presidency, they didn’t maintain me as the shadow Sports minister yet I had done so much previously as the shadow minister in the last five years. I saw many new members being given posts and other responsibilities but not me who had performed so much as the shadow minister. In fact the whole country knew only one shadow Minister in the last five years and that is Allan Ssewanyana because I made the post too vibrant.

Why don’t you retain someone like that? Why?

Ever since you joined NUP, no bigger responsibility has been assigned to you given the fact that you are one of the senior politicians in the party.In your view what could be the problem?

This is a wrong question to me, I don’t know why it is like that ,other members have got two responsibilities just in a single term but of course I don’t know why, maybe this question would go to whoever appoints; the leader of opposition and the party executive. I don’t know why .Maybe I am looked at as someone who can’t perform but I don’t think I am like that, I am a performer.

Do you think you made a mistake to join NUP and in any case at some point in time do you expect to return to DP?

No, I didn’t make any mistake, it is a party of my generation. If we join our heads, we can develop the party further, If we don’t engage into small internal wrangles as party members .We need to focus on fighting dictatorship and get strategies that can help us develop this party further. So I didn’t make a mistake to join it, it was time to start a new life as a person.

About going back to DP, it will depend on how I feel in my current party and if DP has changed especially the leadership and its perception against leaders, I could go back and that will depend on how I am perceived while in the National Unity Platform. It is the environment that makes you stay or leave, so if that environment allows, we shall be there, if it doesn’t of course you quit and that is politics.

Having served as the Member of Parliament for Makindye West for two terms, do you have any plan to seek re-election come 2026?

This is my second term in office as the member of Parliament representing the people of Makindye West but previously I served it as LC V councillor at KCCA. I am trying so hard to serve my people and if they still need me to stay as a member of Parliament, I will be there. If they want to elevate me to the next level of leadership, maybe the Lord Mayor when Erias Lukwago has left, I will come in.

 

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